Coronavirus, when will we be able to sail again? Meteorologist’s opinion

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Meteomed’s expert meteorologist Riccardo Ravagnan explains how the arrival of warmer, wetter weather could mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus in Europe and thus get us back to normal (and our boats) sooner.

“In the beautiful days of summer.
With very slow motion
With the sun the wind turns.”

This seafaring saying tells of the thermal breeze on those hot summer days that we even dream about at night these days. When can we get back to sailing?

Adding a piece of the puzzle on the variables that can pull us out of this deep health crisis is a reflection by Meteomed’s Riccardo Ravagnan. A contribution we gladly publish because it brings us a little closer to our moored boats and projects our minds to the time when we will be sailing again.

HOW CLIMATE COULD HELP US AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

“The Pandemic in Europe is approaching a climate change. As spring arrives, there may be a reduction in the transmission of COVID-19 (2019-nCoV now referred to as SARS-CoV-2) due to increased temperature and relative air humidity.

Scientific studies refer to the R-value, which is the daily reproduction number. The higher its value, the faster and more effective the transmission of infection. Scientists Jingyuan Wang, Ke Tang, Kai Feng and Weifeng Lv from Beihang and Tsinghua Universities believe that a one-degree increase in temperature and one percentage unit of relative humidity can lower the R-value by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively.(HERE THE SOURCE)

How do we estimate the size of this decrease?

Current estimates of the COVID-19 cause mortality rate-(a measure of the percentage of infected people who eventually die)-suggest that this coronavirus strain is less deadly than other large-scale pathogens (belonging all to the Betacoronaviruses) such as SARS (SARS-CoV severe acute respiratory syndrome 2002), MERS (MERS-CoV Middle East respiratory syndrome 2012) and Ebola. But the infection seems to spread more easily than other diseases, including seasonal flu. R-value calculations show a range of 2-2.5 (some publications mention an average of 3.28), compared with SARS with 2 – 4 and MERS 1 – 6.

The value of R varies greatly depending on the data sample, depending on the area examined, and should be continuously updated. It is calculated using models that take into account how long an infected person has been infected, how likely they are to infect people they have been in contact with, and how often they come into contact with other people.
In this context we can easily understand how much influence temperature and humidity can have in lowering the R-value for each degree of T°C and for each percentage of relative humidity in the air.

When is the infection rate lowest?

In warm and humid climatic conditions, the rate of infection is lower, even significantly, by contrast cold and dry air would favor the transmission of Coronavirus (note: this does NOT mean that in warm areas there is no virus!).

This behavior is entirely analogous to influenza: influenza viruses are in fact more stable in cold air, and the droplets emitted from our breath, which may contain the virus, float more widely in the presence of dry air. Moreover, in the presence of cold, dry air, our immune system is weaker.

Based d on this evidence, the areas with the highest R-parameter (thus highest potential contagion) are currently: Europe, Canada, the United States, much of North Central Asia, generally due to colder climate, but also sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East due to drier air.

Instead, contagion rates are projected to decline over much of the Northern Hemisphere next July, so that includes Europe and North America with the exception of the southwestern States where the air remains particularly dry.

Contextually, things are expected to get worse for the Southern Hemisphere, which will be in the midst of Winter, particularly for South Africa and Australia. These considerations are net, of course, of socio-economic restrictions imposed by governments.

So when will we return to sailing? Once in a while I can say I can’t predict it but the desire and hope are strong.”.

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